Prologue – Part 3
Selvaria, Dee and the pendant managed to live rather peacefully until the beginning of the fifth year since Haydee’s arrival. Dee had done great in her training, and seemed to have great promise when it came to detection and concealment abilities. As psions were so rare, very few mages and warriors had put effort into developing ways to detect them, and there were always ways around those detection methods. As such, a psion already had a head start when it came to concealment.
At first it would seem foolish to ignore a threat like that, but in the end it came down to numbers. Anyone could train ki, qi, kei or whatever a particular region of the universe or the world called the internal strength used by most warriors. While anyone could theoretically train in the use of ki, only the elite had the proper methods and talent to truly cultivate their strength. Even so, warriors were the most numerous when it came to powerful individuals.
Mages were much rarer. Again, theoretically anyone could gather enough mana to cast at least the basic spells, but the sad fact was that the path of a mage required a great deal of aptitude to really succeed. That was before one even considered elemental affinities, which were something that not everyone possessed. Without affinities, the mage would find no success. To top it all off, the basics of Ki were much easier to pick up when compared to the myriad ways to utilize mana. Self-taught warriors were a rarity, but it happened often enough to not raise too many eyebrows. Mages had to be either ludicrously lucky, or they had to have a teacher. As a result, there were a thousand warriors for every decent mage.
Psions were even more of a rarity. Even counting in the rare few races that were all born psionic, you would be lucky to find a single untrained psion for every ten thousand mages. As such, the odds of being attacked and killed by a psion were so miniscule that it was simply uneconomical to spend too much time developing ways to detect psionic energy, especially when one considered that these detection methods could always be countered in various ways.
Dee also showed terrific proficiency when it came to finding hiding places in locations were there seemed to be none, great ability in moving and acting in a way that she was just out of the direct eyesight of your opponent, ability to move stealthily and the clarity of mind to act and seem innocent if someone actually managed see you. “Pay no attention to me; I’m just one face among many. Someone you have seen a hundred times, and thus no longer a threat.” Was the way Selvaria described the feeling she got when Dee managed to sneak up on her for the hundredth time.
This last ability was greatly assisted by her psionic abilities, where she used her power to exude an aura of familiarity. If one wasn’t paying attention one hundred percent, then their eyes would simply slide across her, as if she wasn’t even there. Partly as a result of this, Selvaria spent a lot of time and effort honing Dee’s abilities to observation and detection. It would be embarrassing to be beaten by the same ability you excelled in. Additionally, when fighting mages one of the most important abilities was to be able to sense and read the flow of mana. When a mage wanted to attack you, he or she would first gather the mana in a focused location, before sending the attack out towards the enemy. By reading the mana, you could tell what type the attack would be and how much power was put behind it. Serious attacks could be avoided, while faints could be deflected or blocked. Reading mana would also help to detect people and beings, as well as non-living threats like magical traps.
Dee didn’t have the ability to use mana, but her observational skills were excellent, and her ability to read mana got better the more spells she saw in action. Similarly to mana, one could read the internal flow of ki, to anticipate attacks and gauge their strength and seriousness. Dee’s ability at reading ki was not as good as with reading mana, though that was in large part because unlike with mana, Selvaria didn’t make for a very good training target as her ki abilities were too obvious, even if they were effective. This would be an ability she would need to train more in the future.
“She’d make for a pretty good thief or a scout.” The pendant said one day, while they were observing Dee going through series of magical and non-magical traps, obstacles and hidden doors. It was a gauntlet that Selvaria re-created every day in a different form and level of challenge.
“That or an assassin.” Selvaria mumbled in a quiet voice. She was a little disturbed by Dee’s ability sneak up on her. She had faced assassins her whole life, but this little girl could’ve killed her a hundred times over had she wanted to.
“Let’s hope not. Even I’m having trouble keeping track of her nowadays, and that’s my specialty.” The pendant also voiced in apprehension.
Their peaceful time became threatened one day when Selvaria heard that she would be getting visitors. The angels had tried to make contact with her several times before this, but she had rebuffed them every time. This time the one coming was one of the archangels, the leader of their ruling council himself. Lord Empyrean was the second most powerful of all the angels of Paradisia, only second to their Executor, the chosen champion and war-leader. As the Archangel of Order, he was one of the leading forces behind the purge of demons. He was not someone you could easily deny if he wanted a meeting.
“It’s probably better if Dee isn’t here when Empyrean comes. She isn’t exactly stable when it comes to angels, and it would be pretty bad if she picked a fight with one of the archangels.” The pendant said.
“I think you’re right. I’ll have one of women you saved take her to their village for a few days. She’s been asking to go for a few days now, so that should distract her.” Selvaria decided.
“Lady Selvaria. As beautiful as always.” The compliment was rather bland coming from a man more beautiful than her. Aside from the large golden wings, the Archangel of Order had very little masculine about him. If you had to use one word to describe him, that word would be gorgeous. If you were into the pretty boy type that is. The soft skin and face gave the illusion of vulnerability, and the shining long black hair would make any woman grit their teeth in envy. If one would assume him to be weak because of his looks though, one would be making a terrible mistake.
Selvaria on the other hand one might described as ok looking. Her silver hair hung straight down her back, and while her face had beauty and wasn’t marred by imperfections, she also looked very stern and emotionless. While she could be describes as well endowed, she did her best to hide her ‘assets’ under her clothing, preferring to be remembered as serious but brilliant instead of beautiful.
“Lord Empyrean. To what do I owe the pleasure of your company? If I’m not mistaken, the angels have attempted to form relations with me before, but I’m fairly certain that I’ve made my disinterest in politics and power-play quite clear.” Selvaria replied, skipping over most of the formalities, as the two were sitting down in the lounge.
The gorgeous angel let out a small chuckle. “You might be disinterested; however the powers that be are interested in you. Your actions have garnered everyone’s interest, and can you blame them? Your technique was instrumental in the destruction of the thirteen hells. That carries consequences. As long as we don’t know everything about the technique used, everyone will be worried it might be used against someone else.”
The angel was correct. It had been Selvaria’s experiment that had led to the destruction of the demons, and the subsequent purge. “I think I know enough about your consequences. I find your genocide an affront to everything decent, and your actions despicable. I was never in the faction of the Assembly that held a pro-angel stance, and your actions have only made sure that I never will. I do not oppose you, do not expect me to support you either.”
The Assembly held the largest gathering of powerful individuals of the four factions embroiled in the war as a consequence of accepting members from all races with enough power. As a result though, the opinions of the Assembly were divided drastically, and whenever the Assembly was gathered it was common to see individuals come to blows. As a result, the Assembly was divided into factions, and it wasn’t unheard of for one faction to end up on one side of the battle while another faction was on the other side. Naturally some of the factions were supportive of the angels, but Selvaria was not a part of those factions.
While Empyrean was making a supposedly clever quip about Selvaria’s actions not supporting her words, the pendant sent her a silent but urgent message. ‘Look there, at the ceiling behind him!’ As Selvaria hid her look, she was shocked to see Dee creeping closer to the angel, using some of her power to stay attached to the ceiling. The only reason Selvaria even managed to see her, was because she had gotten used to her tricks, and Dee wasn’t specifically trying to hide from her.
‘Oh no!’ Selvaria managed to think, before Dee slashed her claws towards the archangel. Empyrean however wasn’t one of the most powerful angels for nothing, and managed to detect and avoid the strike just in time, mostly because his strength allowed him to move so much faster than the young girl. In the end there wasn’t even any real danger to the angel even if Dee had managed to finish her strike, since she didn’t even have the power to do real damage. However, she did manage to make a small nick on the bridge of his wing, and lodge a pair of feathers loose.
There wasn’t even any real coming from the wound, simply the skin had been broken. Empyrean however was furious. “You would try to assassinate me in your home! Have you no shame!” He yelled as he gathered his power to strike at the child in front of him.
“That’s about enough from both of you!” Selvaria’s words carried her power and the authority she commanded within her own domain, suppressing Empyrean’s gathering power. Within her own pocket space, she was the ruler.
“You! I told you to go to the village, and you decided to disobey me, regardless of the consequences your choice might bring. I know the grudge that you carry, but striking at a guest in my house is not something I will allow!” Selvaria yelled at Dee, who managed to look contrite. This was the first time Selvaria was really angry at her, and as such it was even more shocking.
She rounded on the shocked looking angel. “And you! You come into my house to make insinuations and veiled threats. After your actions, it should be no wonder to you than anyone with even a smidgen of demon blood might want to strike at you no matter where you are. You dare enact genocide and then come here to rub it in everyone’s face! Well I’m not interested! You can leave, and you don’t need to come back!”
“This is far from over.” The usually beautiful angel had an ugly grimace on his face as he turned to leave.
After she had made sure Dee understood the gravity of her mistake, Selvaria gave her a small kiss and put her to bed. In a real act of contrition, Dee had called Selvaria mother for the first time, which still brought tears to her eyes, as she sat down in the lounge considering their next actions.
“The angels will come for her. They might have ignored her presence here otherwise, but now that she dared to strike at Empyrean, they will come after her even at the risk of rousing your ire.” The pendant said, stating the realities of the situation.
“I know. And I will not be able to stop them. I can protect myself, but I can’t protect her and the others. Especially if they come when I’m not here. I can’t ignore the rest of the universe for the time it takes for her to live her life. I wouldn’t want to hold her prisoner here either.” She said in a sad voice.
“We both know what must be done.” The pendant said in a quiet voice.
“She just called me mother for the first time. How can I send her away?” Selvaria sobbed quietly.
“You will send her away because that will keep her alive, because that’s what’s best for her.” The pendant was quiet for a while. “And I will go with her.”
“Are you sure old friend? You know that if an item like you changes owners you will lose your current identity and memories. You will most likely be dormant for years before your new consciousness can emerge.” The reason why such rules applied to intelligent items like the pendant was to prevent them from carrying grudges and going against their new owners. The sad fact was that such items were often pried from the cold dead fingers of their previous owners.
“I’m sure. We’ve been together for a thousand years, and I don’t’ regret it, but it is time for me to move on. You know as well as I do that I’m part of her legacy after what happened with the thirteen hells. It is only right that she will carry me in the future. Besides, one of us has to look after the little idiot.” The pendant said in a melancholic voice.
“I will miss you.” Selvaria said simply. The pendant had kept her company for a thousand years after all.
“And I hope we will meet again. Even if I won’t remember you, I’m sure I’ll be just as annoyed by you.” The pendant tried cracking a joke, but failed as its voice also broke in sadness.
During the next week Selvaria contacted one of her old friends that could look after Dee in a place where the angels could not follow. She also stored some gifts for Dee inside the pendant along with the training manuals that were already there. One of the pendant’s abilities was to function as a dimensional storage, although with the pendant going dormant Dee wouldn’t able to access any of the contents for several years. As the transfer circle was finished, she sat Dee down to explain things to her.
Unsurprisingly Haydee understood the reason why she had to leave immediately, although it made her sad beyond belief. Releasing their hug she looked up at Selvaria, while the circle sprang to life, she simply said. “I will miss you forever mother. We will meet again.” And then she was gone.
As Selvaria collapsed on the floor crying, she could only mutter. “I will miss you too darling. Though I suspect your next visit here might be less friendly as you find out about my part in the demise of your people.”
Once she managed to recover a bit, she removed any trace of the transfer circle, so that no one would be able to discover Dee’s destination. Transfer magic like that was one way anyway, as the dimensional pocket could not be a destination for such spells. Then she prepared herself as she waited for the response from the angels. She only had to wait for few days until Empyrean returned with an escort of Seraph guards. The elite warrior angels kept guard as the archangel approached.
“Empyrean, you’re back. Rather forcefully and where you aren’t wanted I might add.” Selvaria said calmly.
“Oh you can drop the act. You know why I’m here. Even if that little pet of yours hadn’t done anything, we would still be where we are now. I’ll just take extra pleasure in killing that little snit while you’re forced to watch.” Empyrean replied with a malicious smile.
“Rather poor behavior from someone who is supposed to represent ‘good’. I assume you’re after the power from the thirteen hells?” Selvaria asked calmly.
“Does it look like I care about the opinions of a demon lover like you? And yes, one of the things I’m here for is the power you siphoned off while the hells died.” He replied.
One of the most important abilities needed to become really strong in this universe, was the ability to siphon off some of the power of the beings you killed. The better you were at this ability, the bigger portion of your enemy’s strength you could siphon. This ability was called Sengir, and all the most powerful beings had some level of skill at this ability. Normally you could gain only a very small fraction of the power, but depending on the method used to kill your enemy, the most powerful Sengir users could top off at about one fifth of the power. This ability was one of the main reasons why The War in Heaven had gone on for so long. Even for an average Sengir user one dead enemy might not amount to much, but a million? That would make a world of difference. All the people involved had an incentive to keep the battle going just to gain more strength.
“I know your ability at Sengir isn’t the best, and the method you used was probably non-optimal to say the least, but the power you siphoned from collapsing the hells must be enough to shake the foundations of the universe. Where is it? What have you done with it?” Empyrean demanded, getting impatient.
“Pretty gutsy of you to come into my dimensional space and make demands. Not afraid I’ll use that power against you?” Selvaria asked savoring the moment before the arrogant angel would realize he was too late.
“Oh, I already know you can’t use that power. I felt it last time I was here. You have chosen not to make that power your own for some reason, which tells me you have it stored somewhere. You’d need to absorb the power before using it against me, and I don’t plan on giving you the chance. Now answer me.” Now he was getting angry in addition to impatient.
“Why don’t you ask Mneventh? It was mostly his ability that we used to destroy the hells anyway.” Selvaria kept savoring the moment a little more.
“I doubt the dragon aspect of anti-magic would be able to use Sengir. In fact, he might be the only one of the big players who can’t. It’s also the only thing that keeps that bastard from getting completely out of hand.” Empyrean laughed a bit thinking that he had trapped Selvaria.
Mneventh was one of the leaders of the fourth faction in the war, the Eternal Dragonflight. Selvaria was friends with Mneventh and had been studying the possibility of turning the magical nature of demons against them using his power as the aspect. They had both been stunned as the spell had worked much better than they could have possibly imagined, as their experiment had started a chain reaction and the thirteen hells imploded under their own power. Empyrean was right that Selvaria had siphoned off an enormous amount of power, and she also knew the angels were worried that the same method could be used against Paradisia. The home of the angels was just as dependent on magic as the thirteen hells after all.
“Well unfortunately for you, you are too late. Both the power you seek and the target of your torture fantasies are now beyond your reach.” Selvaria had a satisfied smile as she said it.
“Don’t toy with me woman. What did you do?” Empyrean was suddenly a little panicked. There was another reason he was so desperate to gain that power.
“I wouldn’t dream of it. I sent them both to the one place where you will never find them. One of the few places where your kind are not welcome and where even demons can find for refuge.” Selvaria was now grinning openly.
“What did you do? Don’t tell me…the Pantheon of Heroes?” Empyrean shuddered as he mentioned the name of the one place where beings even more powerful than the factions involved in the war had gathered. It was a place created by beings sick of the war and didn’t tolerate interference by the four factions. As they too were seeking a release from the war, they would also now welcome some of the demons running from the angels.
Selvaria leaned forward to whisper in his ear. “Exactly. Good luck with that you genocidal freak!”
“You fool! You have doomed us all! This is why you should pay more attention to matters outside of your little hidey-hole!” Empyrean yelled.
“Oh I know. You’re talking about the vision the Archangel of Destiny had. You of all people should know those visions don’t always come true, and even if this one did, after your actions I don’t really mind. If that power from the thirteen hells really leads to the demise of you feathered freaks, then I won’t lose sleep over it. You’ve brought it upon yourself. Now leave, or I will make you leave. Even without that power I can still fight all of you within my own space. I might not win, but I can make damn sure there will be no other winners either.” She said in a whisper that carried all of her malice at the angels for their actions. She surprised even herself when it came to the depth of her hatred.
Empyrean looked at Selvaria. “You might have power in this space, but outside you’re nothing. I will have all the ways into and out of your hidey-hole sealed forever. This place will be isolated from the rest of the universe. Good luck spending the rest of your life explaining to your pets why they can never leave this place.” The angel growled while storming out, followed by the ominous laughter of Selvaria that held just a smidgen of madness.